Redgrave to carry British flag again

Olympic Games
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Steve Redgrave was about to blow up about the transportation system in Atlanta yesterday when the British Olympic Association poured water on his ire. Instead of raising the roof he will lift the flag at the opening ceremony tonight.

The BOA chose the three-times rowing gold medallist to carry the Union Jack ahead of several other highly qualified candidates, so instead of Linford Christie getting a chance to lead the team round the Centennial Olympic Stadium for the first time, Redgrave will become the first Briton to fly the flag for the second time. He will be making history even before he gets to the water.

"I'm very, very surprised," Redgrave, who will defend the coxless pairs title with Matthew Pinsent, said. "I knew my name had gone forward but I didn't believe for a second they'd ask me again. To think that the sport of rowing has been given the opportunity to lead the team twice is a fantastic honour.

"The bus carrying the rowing team got lost on the way from Atlanta to Lake Lanier and when I arrived I was playing hell about it. Someone said to me 'you don't know about it do you?'. When I was told, it stopped me complaining I can tell you."

The decision means the 34-year-old Redgrave will be detained by the opening celebrations until after midnight, less than 36 hours before he and Pinsent are due to take to the water in the heats building up to the finals on Saturday week.

"It's not ideal," he agreed, "but in theory we are among the strongest crews here and the heats should not take that much out of us. If the finals were imminent it would be a different matter."

Redgrave, who would become the first Briton to win gold medals in four Olympics if he is successful, said the pressure seemed to be declining rather than escalating as the event draws nearer.

"I've spoken to two journalists on the phone in the last three weeks since the rowing team went to Canada and then came here.

"When I compare that to the previous six months when I seemed to be doing three or four interviews every day it feels very low key.

"I'm relaxed, much more so than at the same stage at Barcelona."